Political News

Texas Supreme Court denies GOP-led petition seeking to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes in Houston area

Posted November 1, 2020 2:06 p.m. EST
Updated November 1, 2020 2:46 p.m. EST

— The Texas Supreme Court denied a petition Sunday by a group of Republicans seeking to invalidate nearly 127,000 drive-thru votes in Harris County, while a similar case awaits a decision in federal court just two days before Election Day.

This is the second time in recent weeks the all-Republican Supreme Court in Texas has blocked attempts to dismantle drive-thru voting there. The court did not issue an opinion with the ruling.

The petition was filed last week and argued that drive-thru voting violated federal law.

The plaintiffs -- a Republican activist and three Republican candidates for elected office in Texas -- also filed a suit in federal court, which has an emergency hearing Monday morning in Houston.

Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins has staunchly defended the practice of drive-thru voting, calling it a legal and safe option amid the pandemic.

"We know that the law is on our side," he told CNN moments after the Supreme Court issued its ruling. "We know that we should be protecting these votes, making sure that all of our residents here can have their voice heard, can have their say in our democracy."

Ten of Harris County's 120 early voting sites are drive-thru locations. As of Friday, nearly 127,000 votes had been cast at those sites, marking roughly 10% of the votes cast in person during the early voting period.

While curbside voting in Harris County is limited to voters with a disability and located at all polling sites, the drive-thru voting locations are open to all voters.

The latest state and federal challenges argue that drive-thru voting violates the US Constitution, which says state legislatures decide how elections are run. The plaintiffs also argued it violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, in that the county is adopting a manner of voting that has not been adopted by other Texas counties.

Republican State Rep. Steve Toth, who's listed on the petition as a plaintiff and who's running for reelection, argued it's the job of the state legislature -- not local counties -- to implement changes such as drive-thru voting. He also criticized the state Supreme Court's decision last week. He represents South Montgomery County, just north of Harris County.

This story and headline have been updated with additional information and reaction.

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